Gail Mazur

EASTHAM TURNIPS, ROUTE 6, NOVEMBER
January 24, 2019 Mazur Gail

EASTHAM TURNIPS, ROUTE 6, NOVEMBER

 

Honor System, the sign tacked to a scrub oak said,
and on the table a rusty tin box with a slot in the lid

next to a pile of dirty purplish-white turnips beside
a battered trembly scale. Eastham turnips Eastham

was once “famous” for, fall staple from the rocky ground
hapless settlers had no choice but to farm centuries ago,

back when there were woods, before the black walnut
trees were felled to build Cape houses and whaling boats.

The last of the turnip farmstands alongside a highway
that never existed when Eastham was all farms. What

else could grow here in the hardscrabble soil? Today, no
sign or scale, just an empty table, a dead patch of grass.

Trusted by strangers I never saw, I liked folding soft
George Washingtons through the slot for history’s sake

and bringing root vegetables home, and finding recipes
to make the bitter delicious. Gratins. Frittatas. Soups.

Gail Mazur’s 8 poetry collections include Forbidden City, Figures in A Landscape, , Zeppo’s First Wife, winner of the Massachusetts Book Prize, They Can’t Take That Away from Me, finalist for the National Book Award, and Land’s End: New and Selected Poems, forthcoming in 2020. She lives in Provincetown and Cambridge, Massachusetts where she was founder and long-time director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series.